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This Beached Sperm Whale Died In Tragic And Entirely Avoidable Circumstances

By Jack Beresford

April 13, 2018

The world was left shocked by the picture of a young, male sperm whale who washed ashore on the southern coast of Spain last February.

At the time, the cause of death was unknown but now an autopsy has revealed the grim reality behind this majestic animal’s death – and prepare to feel a little bit guilty.

According to the post mortem, this unfortunate animal died from gastric shock. Gastric shock brought about by swallowing an incredible 29 kilograms of plastic debris.

Regional authorities revealed that the human junk included pieces of ropes, nets, plastic bags, raffia sacks, and a plastic jerry. All of which were found in the whale’s stomach and intestines.

Experts from the El Valle Wildlife Rescue Centre reckon the 10-meter (33 feet), 6-tonne (6.6 tons) whale passed after developing an inflammation of the inner walls of the abdomen,

The condition, known as peritonitis, is usually triggered by a bacterial or fungal infection and, in this instance, the massive amount of undigested plastic is the likely cause.

It’s just the latest example of this sort of sorry incident though. In 2016, 13 sperm whales washed ashore. Each was found to have plastic garbage in their stomachs including a 43-foot fishing net in one instance.

In 2017, another whale was put down after 30 plastic bags were found in its stomach. There are 5.2 trillion tonnes of plastic floating in the world’s oceans today. That figure could treble by 2025.

The EU is already trying to tackle the issue by setting a target to make all plastic reusable or recyclable by 2030. But are we doing enough, ourselves, to address the problem?